140 : A Mother-Son Perspective On Finding Meaning After Being Sidelined w/ Cade & Christine Pinalto

Sidelined USA Cover.jpg

I was first introduced to Cade and his mother Christine Pinalto by one of my former guests, Dr. Robert Huggins from episode 41. It didn’t take much research on my end to realize that I needed to get these two on the show to highlight Cade’s story (video below) and the amazing work he and Christine are doing for permanently injured athletes through their non-profit, Sidelined USA. Sidelined USA’s mission is to reunite permanently-sidelined athletes with their passions and inspire them to find a meaningful way forward. The inspiration behind this organization came after Cade’s diagnosis of a heart condition, which crushed his dreams of being an elite basketball player when he was only 12 years old. It was amazing to get both athlete and parent perspectives on the grieving process after getting the news that no athlete ever wants to hear, yet so many unfortunately do. I was most impressed with Cade’s maturity for such a young man and I am sure that trait was greatly influenced by his mother.

Cade Pinalto: Founder & President of Sidelined USA

Cade Pinalto: Founder & President of Sidelined USA

Christine Pinalto: Executive Director of Sidelined USA

Christine Pinalto: Executive Director of Sidelined USA

Below you find talking points that Cade, Christine and I touch on throughout this interview:

“I don’t know who I am anymore because I can’t play basketball.”

  • What led up to the diagnosis that ended Cade’s basketball career.

  • How Cade was able to get past the depression and anger that ensued after his diagnosis.

  • Christine’s perspective on Cade’s grieving process.

    “I wanted it to be me. I wanted my dreams to be killed, but don’t tell my kid that he cant pursue his dreams.”

  • How parents can help their kids say goodbye to their dreams in these unfortunate situations.

  • How Cade deals with “not being able to go all out” when he plays now.

  • How Cade has adapted his exercise to his heart condition.

  • The hobbies Cade picked up during his transition to life after being a basketball player.

  • Assessing risk while still living your life.

  • The importance of honoring your child’s pain during this process and why you should avoid silver lining comments.

“It hurts deeper than you know, and hurts longer than you think.”

  • Ways to approach your child during the grieving process.

  • Why it’s normal to feel down at the start of your sport’s season.

  • How Coaching helped Cade in his transition to life after basketball as a player.

“Although I can’t play basketball again, it doesn’t mean that my passion for basketball has to die.”

  • Alternate avenues sidelined athletes can pursue in sports and how Sidelined USA can help.

    • Coaching, Photography, Journalism and Athletic Training

  • The benefits of allowing yourself to be vulnerable.

  • The importance of building a healthy identity early on in an athlete’s career.

WHERE CAN YOU CONNECT WITH Cade, Christine & Sidelined usa?

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | twitter | Podcast | Contact | Programs | Resources

Download Episode 140 : iTunes | Stitcher

27 : Dallas Ouano, Former Villanova Basketball Walk-On

Dallas Ouano was once described as "A hard-working guard who understands his role ... Brings tenacity and a strong work ethic to the court and the classroom." These were the first two lines in Dallas' bio on the Villanova Athletics website.  I am lucky to call Dallas my friend and I can vouch that he is still this kind of guy.  In this episode, Dallas teaches us about what it takes to walk on to one of the best basketball teams in the country, despite suffering two serious knee injuries during his basketball career. 

 In the fall of 2008, Dallas arrived at Villanova University thinking that his competitive basketball career was over.  However, as a freshman, he played on the school's club basketball team and went to try-outs for the varsity squad without any expectations. He was ultimately informed that he did not make the cut. Dallas still had fun traveling all over the country with the club team and in the interview he mentions that many club basketball teams are highly competitive and could be a great way to extend a high school athlete's athletic career.  During this 2008-2009 Villanova Men's Basketball campaign, the team made it all the way to the Final Four in Detroit where they lost to eventual national champion, North Carolina.  

Coming back to try-out for this caliber of team after a Final Four appearance might be intimidating to most athletes, but Dallas went into the 2009 season try-out feeling prepared, stronger and more explosive after a summer of intense workouts.  This time, Dallas made the team!  

Dallas learned a tremendous amount of life lessons playing under head coach Jay Wright.  Many of the things he learned has extended beyond the basketball court.  A few examples are listed below:

  • Knowing your role

  • "Be Here Now"

  • "Tap the Rock" (Check out the video below to learn about the significance)

Athletes overcoming injuries or another one of life's obstacles can learn a lot from this episode.  Knowing your role on any team is vitally important, especially when an injury takes you off the court or field.  There are a lot of distractions in today's world that can impede your recovery or from getting to the next level, so when you're in the gym or rehabbing an injury, put the phone down and "be here now." I hope you watched the video above, and if you didn't, here is your second chance... As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day, but if you keep tapping the rock, be prepared for big things to come.

Lastly, in this episode Dallas mentions his girlfriend's blog "Necessary Thickness" where athletes can also find inspiration!  Follow Necessary Thickness at the links below:

Blog | Instagram | Facebook 

Download Episode 27 : iTunes | Stitcher



24 : Dan Exter, Layups 4 Life

This week on the Heads 'N Tales Podcast Kevin traveled to Jersey City, NJ to interview Dan Exter, founder of Layups 4 Life.  Saturday morning, July 13, 2013, Dan awoke to anyone's worst nightmare come true - a doctor with bad news.  After a night out with friends, Dan received 2 missed calls and a voicemail from his doctor.  The urgent news Dan's doctor had for him would change his life forever.  Dan had been seeing a lung specialist to address the shortness of breath he had been experiencing for the previous few months.  After trying inhalers to no avail his father recommended that he see a lung specialist in NYC. 

Ultimately, Dan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  In this episode Dan talks about the plan of action that was taken by the doctors to fight the cancer.  This included radiation, chemotherapy and a t-cell depleted stem cell transplant. Dan goes into detail about these treatments and how luck actually was on his side in some instances, like when his brother was a perfect match to be his stem cell donor.  He also talks about the emotional ups and downs that come with going through a traumatic experience like fighting cancer and how to keep a positive attitude.  At one point when Dan was unsure if he would beat this disease, he thought about what his legacy would be when he was gone.

Clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), the hospital where Dan received his treatments, proved the effectiveness of t-cell depleted stem cell transplants.  To give back to the hospital that save his life he created Layups 4 Life, which is a 3 on 3 basketball tournament that raises money for life-saving clinical trial research at MSK.  At last years first annual Layups 4 Life at Roxbury High School in Succasunna, NJ he raised over $10,000.  View the video below to see what the event is all about!

Join us for the 2nd Annual Layups 4 Life, 3-on-3 Hoop-It Up tournament being held on Sunday, April 10 at 10:30 a.m. at Roxbury High School (1 Bryant Dr. Succasunna, NJ).  Teams must be in groups of 4, ages 15+ can register.  Click on the following link to sign up : REGISTER.  Even if you don't want to play, come to support the cause, listen to the DJ, win some raffle prizes, bid on the silent auction items or indulge at the concession stand like I will be doing.

Where can you find Dan and Layups 4 Life?

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Event Registration

Download Episode 24 : iTunes | Stitcher